Manteca Police Department becomes certified autism center

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

It means officers are now specifically trained and equipped to respond to community members, such as those on the spectrum, neuro-diverse or have sensory needs.

MANTECA, Calif —

Manteca police celebrated a new certification they earned, which helps them better understand and respond safely to people who have autism.

For families like the Beatos, knowing their local police are specifically trained to handle people with autism safely is a huge sigh of relief.

“Our oldest is autistic, he’s non-verbal and we know the importance of education and early intervention,” said Ashleigh Beato. “So, it does feel good that, if God forbid he gets separated from us, that we know the police department does know how to handle it.” 

On Monday, the Manteca Police Department celebrated its recent certification as a “certified autism center.”

It means their officers are now specifically trained and equipped to respond to community members, such as those who are on the spectrum, neuro-diverse or those who have sensory needs.

Their training includes the use of autism-specific devices in what the department calls “the mental health tool kit.”

“Some examples of some of the things inside are, for those who are non-verbal, who don’t speak, there’s a card that we can pull out and they can point to certain instructions and we can ask them questions and they can provide us some feedback just using the card,” said Lt. Joshua Gutierrez, spokesperson for Manteca Police Department. 

Officers will have kits with snacks, toys and timers inside them to help people focus.

There are also headphones for people with auditory sensitivities and other comfort items like fidget toys. 

The goal is to be inclusive, de-escalate and avoid use of force.

Police Chief Stephen Schluer said his officers were enthusiastic to learn the training, which included an online course and tests.

He added that the need for this training across California and the country is great.

“I think it’s going to make a huge impact. I think it’s very important, to not only myself as the police chief, but to the police department and to the city and to the visitors to our  community,” said Chief Schluer.

It makes moms like Ashleigh Beato feel safer that her kid might be safer.

“For the police to be educated about that, it just means everything to us as parents, because that’s our biggest fear,” said Beato. 

Manteca joins only a handful of other police departments in California as certified autism centers.

Schluer hopes more police forces throughout the state are inspired to do this training.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.